Accidents on Public Transit - Mazow | McCullough, PC
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Accidents on Public Transit: Who’s Responsible? What Are Your Rights?

Public TransitDriving is the most dangerous thing most people do on a regular basis. Unfortunately, regardless of the vehicle you’re in, accidents can happen. Statistically, professional vehicle operators tend to be safer than the average driver, but these operators still cause accidents. Here’s what you need to know about these motor vehicle accidents and the liability around them.

Fatalities and Injuries on Public Transit

Fatalities due to airplane crashes are extremely rare. In 2010, there were 17 deaths and six injuries related to on-demand air taxis, but the majority of airline deaths happen on private planes or business jets. In contrast, roughly 500 to 600 people die on railways every year.

Bus accidents are much more common than airplane or train accident. In 2014 alone, there were 69,000 bus accidents on highways in the United States. According to research from the University of Michigan, about 14,000 of these crashes result in an injury every year, and only about 325 accidents lead to a fatal injury. On average, people tend to walk away from bus crashes relatively unscathed compared to the average motor vehicle accident. Based on numbers from 2009, there are 45 deaths for every 100,000 bus accidents, while there are 251 deaths for every 100,000 passenger vehicle accidents.

Responsibility for Public Transportation Accidents

Generally, if someone is injured due to an accident on public transit, the driver can be held personally and criminally responsible, but financial liability falls to the company that owns the vehicle. However, if the accident was caused by another driver, that driver may be liable. In all cases, for liability purposes, someone must have been negligent in a way that led to the accident.

In Massachusetts, professional vehicle operators are held to an even higher standard than regular vehicle operators due to the commonwealth’s common carrier laws. Common carriers typically include buses, taxis, planes, and other modes of public transit, and the higher standard simply means these professional operators need to be more careful and attentive than the average driver.

Negligence in Public Transit Accidents

Drivers can be negligent in a number of different ways. For instance, if a bus driver crashes while using their phone or talking to a passenger, that may be considered negligent. Similarly, the following cases can all be considered negligent:

  • Distracted driver
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver errors
  • Driver on drugs or alcohol
  • Inadequate training
  • Company failure to screen employee
  • Defective parts
  • Failure to do necessary maintenance and repairs

Justice After a Motor Vehicle Accident on Public Transportation

If you have been injured on a bus or any other type of public transit vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost time at work, and pain and suffering. However, you need to act quickly. Under Massachusetts state law, you only have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If someone died as a result of the accident, you have three years from the date of their death to file a wrongful death suit.

However, if the accident involved a bus company owned by a government entity, the statute of limitations may be shorter. Special state tort claim rules often apply to these entities, and in some cases, there are even limits on compensation.

To learn more about your rights after an accident on public transit, contact the Law Offices of Mazow | McCullough, PC today at (855) 693-9084. We can start with a free case evaluation and let you know if you might be entitled to compensation.

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